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boundless pleasures. Pleasures not confined to time, but which will last to all eternity. God now dwells in the contrite heart; and soon shall every true penitent dwell with him in paradise.
Let those who know what true repentance is, give thanks to him who has graciously bestowed it. Know, my friends, that repentance is not the work of a day, but of life. The more you know of your own heart, and the more you know of Christ, the more need you feel of a repenting spirit. Pray that the Holy Spirit may deepen the work of repentance day by day; and enable you, in every part of your life and conversation, to "bring forth fruit suitable to that repentance.—" Walk humbly with thy God;" and let the remembrance of forgiven sins ever keep you low in your own eyes: having received mercy, love much, for much is forgiven, and labour daily to maintain a conscience void of offence towards God, and towards all men.
"O, how I hate those lusts of mine
"Whilst with a melting broken heart,
I'll raise revenge against my sins,
Hebrews Xij. 14. Holiness, loithout which no man shall see the Lord.
"IJOLY, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty!" -*--*- This is the language of saints and angels in their solemn worship. Yes: the God who made us; the God who rules us; the God who will judge us, is most holy. "Who is like unto him, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders V The due consideration of God's holiness will make us serious at all times, and especially when we consider our own unholiness. Welf may each of us adopt the words of the prophet Isaiah: "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips; and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips !"—" Who can stand before this Holy Lord God?"
When God created man, he made him holy. God created man in his own image, which image was holiness; for this is the peculiar character of God. But man soon lost the glory of his nature by sin. He became an unholy being; and God, "who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and who cannot look upon iniquity," banished him from paradise; for sin broke off the happy intimacy that before subsisted. As there can be no communion between light and darkness, so there can be no communion between a holy God and an unholy sinner. And this is the reason of what is affirmed in our text, that " without holiness, no man shall see the Lord." To " see the
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Lord" is a description of the happiness of heaven, where all his divine perfections will be displayed to the admiration and delight of all the redeemed; but we cannot see him without holiness. Now God, who made man holy at first, has graciously contrived to make him holy again. This is a chief part of his great salvation; for by the blood of Christ, the guilt of sin is taken away from believers; and, by the Spirit of Christ, they are born again, and made new creatures: that is, they'are made holy, and so made meet for heaven, which is seeing God. "The pure in heart shall see God."
Our business at this time shall be,
I. To show what holiness is;
II. To prove the necessity of holiness; and,
III. To point out the means of holiness.
I. Let us consider the nature of true holiness.— .Briefly, Holiness is the image of God restored in the soul; or, in other words, "Holiness is that purity of man in his nature, inclinations, and actions, which is an imitation and expression of the divine image."
Observe here, holiness is purity; the contrary of that horrid defilement which sin has produced in the soul of man. There are two things in sin, the guilt of it, and the defilement of it. By the guilt of it, we become liable to eternal punishment: by the defilement of it we are made unfit to serve or enjoy God. Guilt makes us afraid. Defilement makes us ashamed. Thus Adam had both guilt and fear upon the commission of his first sin. Now, in the salvation of Jesus Christ, God has provided for taking both these things away from us. The guilt of sin is wholly removed from those who believe by the blood of Christ, which made atonement for it: the filth of sin is removed by the grace of the Holy Spirit, from all those who are born again.
The purity we speak of is the purity of the heart, or nature. It is not enough that the outward actions are not impure; there can be no true holiness till the heart is purified. Now, many people overlook this entirely. They think it enough if they are good livers, as they call it, or do good works. This was the fatal mistake of the Pharisees, so severely exposed by our blessed Lord. They were very particular about meats, and drinks, and washing every thing, to prevent defilement; but he charges them with washing the outside only, and taking no care of the heart: they drew nigh to God with the mouth, but their heart was far from him. Their inward part was very wickedness; they were like white-washed , tombs, beautiful without, but full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Our Lord, therefore, insisted upon the necessity of being born again; or being partakers of a new and divine nature. Believers are " born from above,"—" born of God;" and as every child partakes of the same nature with his father, so do the new-born sons of God; they "put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; they are renewed in the spirit of their minds; and put on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness." Ephesians iv. 22—24.
The heart being thus renewed, there must, of course, be new dispositions and inclinations. Every nature has its proper desires and inclinations. Those of the Christian are holy, in conformity to the will of God. The alteration that grace makes is strikingly represented by the prophet Isaiah, in the 11th chapter:—" The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf, and the young lion, and the cow, and the bear, shall feed, and lie down together;"—that is, wicked men, however fierce, shall be so altered by the efficacy of the Gospel and grace of Christ, that they shall become meek, and gentle, and loving, even to the weakest Christians. Brethren, have you experienced any change of this sort? And what must we think of persecutors, who despise religion; who hate and hurt serious people? Surely these are still lions and wolves, and cannot be esteemed the sheep of Christ. Oh, that such may know what it is to be born again!
Let us now consider, briefly, what are the prevailing dispositions and inclinations of holy persons.
They are under the habitual influence of the fear of God—not the fear of a slave, but the fear of a child. God has put his fear into their hearts; so that, instead of living without him, and contrary to him, as once they did, they are in the fear of God all the day long. They know that his eye is upon them: they set him always before them, and their desire is, to please and glorify him in all that they think, and speak, and do.
. Again: They are humble. Humility is the root of all other graces, and the only soil in which they will grow. They know themselves; they know the plague of their own hearts; they are conscious of innumerable sins to which the world are strangers.—The remembrance of sins committed in their carnal state covers them with shame; and the sense of much remaining corruption keeps them low in their own eyes; so that they not only lie in the dust before God, but they are kept from despising their neighbours. If they differ from the worst of mankind, they remember that grace alone made them to differ. Thus, being converted, they receive the kingdom of heaven as little children, and learn to live constantly dependent on the wisdom, grace, and power of their heavenly Father.
Once more: Holy persons are spiritually and heavenly-minded: for, "to be carnally-minded, is death;